Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Evolution of a Barefoot Runner

Jesus Joggers
In 1997 Tarah and I decided we had had enough of the "we're well past being freshman 15 (or maybe it was 30)" we had put on so we decided to start living more active lives. This included tennis, our first post boy scout adventure into backpacking, day hiking and even running. The running was going along just fine with distances closing in on 5 miles. We were really feeling great. Then one day, in the middle of a run my knee started hurting. I took it easy and walked the rest of the way home. The knee felt fine ever later that day but I gave it a few days just to be sure. The next time I went out for a run I only made it a fraction of a mile before it became apparent that the knee just wan't going to put up with this run. This time I gave it a couple of weeks, just to let it really heal, but to no avail, again I couldn't even make it a mile. Since then I have tried every few months and purchased several new pairs of running shoes hoping that this time the knee would have finally healed and I could again go for a run.

Then in 2009 I red an article and saw a video on the New York Times talking about this new weird barefoot running technique that it claimed is much more gental on the joints. It went on to discuss the mechanics of using your calf as the shock absorber by coming down on the mid-foot instead of on the heel and how this is the natural style of running for man and how heel striking is only made possible with big thick cushy modern shoes. In the video they even went for a run around central park with no shoes on.

This all seemed kinda wacky but the mechanics made sense to me and given the history of pain I had had I thought I'd give it a try. I walked out the front door barefoot onto the sidewalk of Seattle's Capitol Hill feeling like a complete nut job. When I started running I noticed immediately that heel striking simply is not an option when you're barefoot on concrete. I didn't have to think about changing my style; my body simply wan not going to allow me to heel strike without shoes. The first block just felt awkward, mostly due to self-consciousness from the bare feet, but by the second I was in pain; however it was just the scraping pain of my skin being rubbed off by the sidewalk; my knee was still feeling great. I was able to run two thirds of a mile with absolutely no knee pain. This was a first in over a decade.

The two days following that first run were painful in yet another way. My calves have never been so sore! This wasn't a normal nice feeling sore this was seriously intense to where I had real trouble getting up stairs to my bedroom.

A few days later I tried it again and made it a mile, and then two, before I knew it I was running three miles with absolutely no knee pain completely barefoot. The bloody feet had gotten tougher but it was still painful and I still felt self-conscious about running barefoot on the street.

I started reading more about barefoot running on the web and discovered that people were making DIY sandals modeled after sandals made by the Tarahumara of Mexico called the huarache. So of course I had to make some of my own. I ended up making two or three iterations but finally nailed down the design to something that was quite comfortable. The look like Jesus sandals so I called them my Jesus Joggers. I ended up logging nearly 200 miles on the sandals with runs up to 7 miles long. And fast. I was running faster than I had ever ran in the past with an average pace dipping down to 7:30. Somewhere in here I also read the book "Born to Run" which is all about ultra marathoners and barefoot running and the Tarahumara. At this point I was complete hooked.

Then the winter of 2011 hit and I started wearing socks with my sandals. But it's fricking cold and wet in Seattle. Finally I broke down and purchased the Merrell Trail Barefoot Running Shoes. These things have been great. I feel like I'm nearly barefoot but with just a little more protection from the elements. The only drawback that I've found is that the Merrells do allow me to lengthen my stride and as I get tired during a run my stride tends to lengthen. As that happens I can feel the knee pain start creeping in again.
First iteration of Jesus Jogger 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A big move to Santa Barbara!!!!

After 8 years in Seattle we finally decided that we had had enough. In December Tarah said "we have to find somewhere else to live" but this time she really meant it. So I started looking for another job. I ended up with options for San Diego or Santa Barbara and from the title of the posting I guess it clear which we chose. We made the choice primarily on location as both jobs seemed like good employment opportunities. Santa Barbara just has a feel that we didn't think San Diego could beat. Plus my job is right in the heart of SB and we found a place just 5 blocks from it. This cuts my 30-60 minute drive down to a few minute walk!!! :) I'm really happy about that!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mielle again, sorry

I don't want my blog to start focusing only on Mielle but it turns out that a new baby is pretty much all consuming. These pictures are from Thanksgiving.

We went to the Dr. last week and man oh man she's a big girl. She's weighing in at 20 pounds 4 oz putting her at the 99.9 percentile for weight, 98.5% for head size, and 92% for height. I don't know where she gets it from. Well actually I do. Her sister was the fattest baby I've ever seen. Oh and it turns out that well calibrated cuteometer puts her squarely at the 100% level.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mielle on the road, Westfalia style

 Tarah and I both took our full 3 months of FLMA leave and used some of it to go camping in our new (old) Westfalia VW camper. We were (or I should say I was) a little too adventurous I think because on this first trip to Hood River Mielle is only 3 weeks old. Tarah is a real trooper to put up with me; she's awesome. Everything went very very well except for the first day's drive which was just a little too far and we were all feeling the stress of Mielle being in the carseat for too long. My parents went with us and camped in a tent next to the van. As you can see in the second photo, there is a perfect little sleeping nook for little Mielle just next to us. She actually slept incredible well in the van. I made some spectacular crapes in the morning and we topped them with fresh organic blueberries that my parents bought from a very nice french woman near town. When asked if they were organic she was appalled at the idea of some other alternative.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mielle is here!!!!!

Our beautiful baby Mielle was born on June 29th weighing in at 9 lbs 4 oz! Tarah is such a fricking trooper, and all that baby with no meds. The top of her little head was poking out for about an hour making me ball with excitement like a little school girl.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Little baby coming soon

We are about to have a beautiful baby girl named Mielle. She's due the 19th but Tarah thinks it will happen in the next couple of days. We are both going to take 3 months off after she's born and hope to do some - not so adventurous - traveling in our new (well new in 1984)  Westfalia camper bus. I'll post a little something about the van soon but I need to take a couple of pics first.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Expanding the Urban Garden, cedar beds

With two new raised cedar beds our urban garden has been almost doubled. One is 4x8 and the other is 4x6, giving us a total of 121 square feet with the steel beds. For simplicity I decided to go with cedar this time, even though I love the metal ones.

These beds will get full sun so we filled them with tomatoes and peppers and even an eggplant. Tarah thinks I'm being silly planting an eggplant in Seattle but we'll see.

A number of years ago when Union Street was torn up, our neighbors collected some of the original cobblestones. They've been saving them for a project that they recently decided was never going to happen, so they offered the stones to me this weekend. I used them to make a cute and very functional little set of stairs between the two new beds.